Fresh Vegan Pasta with Zucchini and an olive oil, lemon, pistachio and basil condiment
We all make mistakes, right? And thank goodness, because from mistakes we can learn something new and consider things in a different way! Today's recipe, in fact, is the result of a mistake... To make you laugh, I could tell you that I had considered titling this post "The Cappellacci who wanted to be Orecchiette" 😂😂😂 Yes, because that was my initial intention, but then things got a bit complicated. As you may know, orecchiette means small ears, while mine were acquiring the look of elephant ears. I kept looking at a tutorial with two southern women from Apulia that kept producing them at incredible speed, without even looking at the dough; but no, I was really not able to replicate their gestures.
I was getting so frustrated, and did not want to waste the dough, that at one point, I decided to roll it out and make stuffed pasta. And it worked wonderfully!!! The first time I limited myself to ravioli, while the other day I gave the pasta a shape similar to the one of cappellacci. Let me tell you that not only it looked great, but it also tasted delicious! And it is a perfect recipe for anyone following a plant-based diet!
The original cappellacci -from Ferrara- are quite different, in the sense that the pasta is obviously made with 00 flour and eggs, and the filling is rigorously pumpkin. Keep in mind that we Italians are very sensitive about regionality and that even between nearby towns, there can be huge arguments on which is the truly original recipe. So I won't even dare define them cappellacci, I could risk my life if someone from Ferrara read this... I just took inspiration from the shape! And changed the filling.
Of course you can make the filling you prefer, the reason why I decided to make a totally vegan pasta is because I believe that it is possible to follow this type of diet without having to necessarily buy exotic foods that come from far away, transported by plane. After all, when I cook I give priority to seasonality and try to buy local produce, also to support our farmers. I chose simple spring ingredients that are present in all -or most- countries, as you may not find specific Venetian herbs and greens in America or wherever you are based.
The pasta turned out delicious and I got Vittorio's full approval! Consider that his mother was from Modena, in the Emilia-Romagna region (the home of fresh pasta made with eggs and dressed with meaty sauces), so he is used to that sort of fresh pasta (and I adore it when at Christmas he returns home with a bag full of homemade tortellini... a real treat!). For this reason, you can probably understand how anxious I was about his opinion. But he loved them! He said that this dish was a real Mediterranean Vegan meal, the sort he'd like to find more of in vegan restaurants, with real southern ingredients like semolino flour, vegetables, capers, pistachios, basil, olive oil and lemon! I was very proud of myself!
As you know, I'm still spending the days at home, thus unfortunately I don't have any new pictures of Venice nor artisan story to share (at least for the time being, but don't worry, as soon as this will be over I will make up for this time!). I'm experimenting a lot in the kitchen and taking things easy, sleeping more than usual and planning future projects. On my Instagram stories I started sharing old pictures of my Venetian wanderings, offering daily visual tours of the lagoon and -hopefully- the possibility to make people travel with their mind. It's a lighthearted activity that is receiving a good feedback and that I too am enjoying pretty much, as it makes me want to go back to all the islands, museums and Venetian calli and campi.
This is more or less the news for now. I hope you are well and that you will enjoy the recipe as much as we did.
Take good care of yourselves and talk soon.
RECIPE: FRESH VEGAN PASTA WITH A ZUCCHINI FILLING
Ingredients for about 23/24 cappellacci:
For the pasta:
200 gr semolino flour
3 gr salt
100 ml water (room temperature)
For the filling:
2 medium zucchini
2 crushed cloves of garlic
a pinch of salt
For the condiment
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
e.v. olive oil
6/8 crushed pistachios
1. First we make the pasta. Put the semolino flour in a bowl and combine with the salt. Make a hole in the centre and slowly pour the water. Start amalgamating with your hands, then move to a flat floured surface and keep kneading for about 10 minutes. When the dough is well amalgamated, cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a pan with the crushed garlic, and when the oil starts to pop add the roughly chopped zucchini. Remove garlic and cook for about 7/8 minutes at medium heat. If the pan seems to be getting dry, add a few drops of water with your fingers. When ready, mix with a hand blender and let cool.
3. Go back to your pasta. Flour (abundantly, use all purpose flour) a flat surface and roll out well. The dough should be very thin, about 1 mm. Cut the dough with a dough cutter (diameter 6 cm) and place a little bit of filling in the middle.
4. Fold the dough as if you were making ravioli, in the shape of a half moon, and press the edges with the tips of your fingers to seal. At this point, attach the tow ends and seal pressing gently. With the thumb of your right hold the back of the pasta, and with two fingers of your right hand gently turn the sealed part upside down, towards the filling (of course...if you are left handed, do the opposite!). That's it!
5. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add sea salt and when it boils add the pasta. It will be ready when the cappellacci come to the surface.
6. Meanwhile, heat a pan, add a little bit of olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic (remove after 30 seconds), add the capers and a few drops of lemon and when the pasta is ready, use a skimmer and put it on the pan. Add a little bit of the pasta's cooking water, and saute for a minute. If you like, pour some more lemon juice.
7. Put on a plate, grind some black pepper and garnish with crushed pistachios and fresh basil.